When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemon Meringue Pie

April 10 , 2016 by: Amber Trudeau Icing, Other Desserts, Pie, Pudding/ Mousse

Well, if you’re me, you might also end up eating a bunch of your freely acquired and provided-by-life lemons straight up, but if you have a lot of them, then I suppose one could also work them into a pie, or a tart…or something 😉 .

As a kid, lemon meringue pie was probably one of my favour-ITE-iest (no that’s not a typo) desserts of all time. It just had so many things that I love going for it, pie (oh pie, I “PIE”-N for you at all times 😉 ), lemon (tart, sweet and all things mmmmm…..), creamy , custardy goodness and then there was that cloud-like deliciousness of meringue that would be piled high, so light and airy that it melted in your mouth and dissolved like cotton candy (except without all that “cotton” and food dye, so way way better). Alas, though I have made the odd lemon tart since my vegan days began, the meringue was always sadly missing. Well, that’s that, end of post, there’s no solution to this problem, I just wanted to whine and vent to you all 😉 .

Obviously I’m full of it (possibly because I’m overly full of VEGAN LEMON MERINGUE PIE!!!!!!!). Anyway, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system. You may or may not recall the other week when I dabbled in the re-creation of vegan macarons using aquafaba (brine from a can of chick peas). Apparently this stuff has all kinds of egg-white replacing uses. Which of course made me immediately enlist the help of a choir of angels, so that I could have my “lemon-meringue-pie-might-in-fact-be-doable” moment (and let me tell you, those angels ain’t cheap. Clearly they haven’t heard the good word about charity and giving 😉  Totally worth it though).

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I admit that after the macarons went so well, my hopes for this were unreasonably high. I was so hopeful that I just knew the reality could not possibly live up to my own personal hype. “Easy there Amber, simmer down a little, there is no way that this meringue will be both nectar of the gods and give you super powers when you eat it. I know it seems magical, but lets bring a little more reality to this here dessert.”

I’ve just realized that my title to this post is not exactly accurate. Life did not give me lemons…unless of course it can be considered life giving them to you when you trek yourself out to pick one up from the life giving “tree” – otherwise known to all you non-speaking-in-ridiculous-metaphor-people as the “grocery store” (no reason for that to be in quotes, I really bought them at the grocery store. But this now gives me the opportunity to go on a side rant about how much I hate when people use quotes around something when what they really want to do is emphasize it. Amber’s blog lesson #57 (yes I just randomly made up that number, you caught me 😉 ) Putting quotes around something implies that what you’re saying is actually not true. For instance:

suspicious-quotation-marks-icecream

This does not mean that the ice cream is real. In fact, the “real” here leads me to believe that even I could maybe eat this so called ice cream, since it’s not actually real. Or the exact opposite situation:

veggie

*le sigh*. Now I’m not sure if I could eat this since they seem to be implying that it’s not actually a veggie burger (if you really felt the need to quote something here FYI, “burger” would maybe be the appropriate thing, just sayin’. Also, side note about this picture – “Turkey Pretzel”?!! Ok, clearly I wouldn’t be into the whole turkey part, but I am completely loving this concept and wish that I knew where this restaurant was. And not only because I would be extremely hopeful that their menu may have some further grammatically entertaining faux pas’ 😉 ).

As per usual I have digressed completely off the beaten track and forgot what I was doing here. Eat more sugar Amber and it will lower your stress levels if not your blood sugar levels 😉 .

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Despite me thinking there was no way this meringue could live up to expectation, (I mean, the only ingredients in this fluffy, cloud-like topping are chickpea brine, sugar, vanilla and cream of tarter. With the macarons I could at least buy into the possibility that they could be good because there were a million other flavours that would be involved and they were going to be baked, so I didn’t figure adding in the mild taste of chickpea would even be noticed. With meringue however, that just isn’t the case at all. I mean, I’d hazard to say that a full third to possibly half of this whole dessert is the meringue! I just couldn’t fathom not noticing a distinct chickpea flavour) I’m incredibly happy to report however that I was oh so wrong. I don’t just mean a little bit wrong and that you can sort of detect the chickpea brine flavour, but you’re willing to overlook it. I mean wrong like people thinking the world was flat or calling the Titanic unsinkable. Wrong like wearing socks with sandals, drinking orange juice after brushing your teeth or like calling Justin Bieber an artist. Yes people, I mean that wrong. This meringue was spot on perfect. Now I realize you don’t want to take my word for it because you’re thinking “Yeah – she freely admitted to not having had lemon meringue pie in a badgillion years, like she actually remembers what meringue tastes like.” You need not take my word for it – Kevin’s response was “Oh my God! This is so so good” and then he toppled over in a very manly swoon. Next to the taste, I think my favourite part about this meringue was how incredibly easy it was to make. I’m strongly suspecting that I’m going to end up with a ridiculous abundance of hummus making in my future, because I won’t be able to stop making this meringue.

BONUS RECIPE: I ended up with quite a bit of leftover meringue and lemon filling (which you likely wouldn’t if you did this as a full pie, or alternatively, if you double the crust recipe for tarts so that you get 20-24 instead of 10-12), which, because I hate being wasteful, I just popped both leftovers into a couple of covered bowls in the fridge figuring I would come up with something to use them for later. Fast forward four days when I suddenly remembered that these were even in the fridge. Oops *embarrassed face*. At this point, particularly when I opened the bowl with the meringue in it and saw that it had gone completely flat, I figured it was a lost cause and that I’d likely have to turf it. As a last ditch hail Mary pass though, I thought I’d just try re-whipping it to see if that would work. It totally did!! I whipped it for maybe 5 minutes and it was as good as new! At that point, I figured I’ just try to use it to make meringue cookies and I’d dollop a blob of the lemon filling in the centre for lemon meringue cookies. They actually turned out pretty well (despite me thinking they wouldn’t, so I didn’t even try to make them look pretty. Also, I thought I was being smart by putting the lemon in the middle prior to baking, and I will tell you now that that is a mistake, which is why in my instructions, I tell you to blob it on afterwards. If you don’t, it leaks through the bottom of the cookie in the oven and makes your cookies stick to everything 🙁 . Do as I say not as I do young grasshopper. Still tasty though 🙂

 

Lemon Meringue Tarts (or Pie)

Yield: 10-12 tarts

Ingredients: Pie Crust

  • 1 1/4 cups pastry flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil (in solid form – chill in the fridge a little if you need to)
  • 2 tablespoons cold vegan butter
  • 1 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 3-4 tablespoons chilled lemoncello (or ice water)

Ingredients: Lemon Filling

  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup custard powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon agar powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups almond milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup lemoncello
  • Juice from 2 large lemons (should yield about 3/4 cup)
  • zest from 2 lemons

Ingredients: Meringue

  • 1 can of chickpeas (mine was 19oz)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup ground cane sugar (achieve this by pulsing briefly in a food processor, or the lazy man’s way (aka my way) pulsing in a coffee grinder. Alternatively, you could use icing sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon xantham gum (you don’t need this, so if you don’t have it don’t worry about it. From my minimal online research, it seems like this helps it to stay firmer for longer. If you plan on eating your tarts right away/ that same day, it likely won’t make a difference).

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease 12 muffin tin slots.
  2. Start by making your tart shell dough. Sift the flour and baking powder together in a medium bowl. Stir in sugar and salt.
  3. Add the solidified coconut and vegan butter in pieces to the dry ingredients coatings the pieces with flour.
  4. Work the pieces into the flour with your fingers, breaking up the pieces more if need be (you don’t want any pieces that are larger than a pea).
  5. Add the vinegar to the chilled lemoncello. Add the lemoncello/vinegar mixture to the dry ingredients a small amount at a time, mixing between additions. You don’t want to add any more liquid than necessary, so once the dough starts to slightly hold together when pinched, then you can stop adding the liquid.
  6. Gather the dough into a ball and flatten into a disc. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate.
  7. 10-15 minutes before you’re ready to use it, remove from the fridge to allow it to warm up enough to use.
  8. Divide the dough equally between your greased muffin tins and press the dough up the sides to make your tart shell.
  9. Bake tart shells for 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
  10. While tarts are cooling, make the lemon filling. Combine all the ingredients for the lemon filling in a medium sized sauce pan on medium-high heat. Bring to a boil whisking constantly. Continue whisking for another 5-10 minutes until mixture is a fairly thickish consistency (somewhere between pudding and jello). Pour into your prepared tart shells and allow to cool completely.
  11. Preheat oven to 250F.
  12. For the meringue: Pour the liquid only from your can of chickpeas into a large mixing bowl with the cream of tartar. Mix for a couple of minutes until the mixture becomes frothy.
  13. Begin to add the sugar one tablespoon at a time until it’s all been added. Add the vanilla. Continue beating on high speed until stiff peaks form (this took me about 8-10 minutes, so just be patient if it seems like it’s taking a while).
  14. Spoon meringue over lemon filling and return to the oven for 20-30 minutes, or however long it takes for the meringue to brown to your liking. Store in the refrigerator.

BONUS RECIPE: Lemon Meringue Cookies

Yield: 12 cookies

Ingredients

  • Leftover meringue from recipe above (or alternatively, just make the recipe above if you only want the cookies. You’ll obviously end up with more cookies)
  • Leftover lemon filling from the recipe above (again, you could also just make the lemon filling recipe above if you just want the cookies)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 200F. Line a baking sheets with parchment of silpat (seriously do this, the cookies stick, and I don’t think that just greasing the pan will be enough).
  2. Scoop your meringue into a piping bag, or simply add to a plastic sandwich bag and cut off the corner. Pipe a circle and fill it in, then pipe a couple of extra circles around the rim so you have 3 layers with a well in the middle. Continue until you’ve used up all of your meringue.
  3. Bake in the oven for 1.5 hours. Turn off your oven and open the oven door slightly. Leave for another hour.
  4. Remove tray from oven and fill the wells with your lemon filling.
  5. These did start to get soft within a day or 2 (mostly because of the wet filling I think), so they’re best if consumed quickly. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

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About Amber

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Hi, I'm Amber Trudeau.  I bake.... a lot.

I'm also vegan, and found that whenever I went out to a restaurant my dessert choices were limited to sorbet, sorbet, and sorbet.  So I started making my own desserts. I wanted them to taste good though - so my ultimatum was to make delicious desserts that also happen to be dairy-free and egg-free. Every week or so, I challenge myself to try something new.  To recreate some kind of traditional dessert that tastes amazing without using animal products.

Have a challenge for me? Send me a note:

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